Via RT America: As 90 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses, city and county governments are suing pharmaceutical giants, seeking compensation for the cost of extra policing, foster care, medical expenses and other costs. ‘America’s Lawyer’ host Mike Papantonio joins RT America’s Manila Chan to argue that the agents of Big Pharma “don’t look like drug pushers” but constitute “a drug cabal.”

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Manila Chan: Cook County Illinois is following five other counties in the state in a lawsuit against several of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical companies. The counties allege opioid manufacturers conducted unlawful marketing, and have put profit before public health. And in South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster has declared a public health emergency. The moves in Illinois and South Carolina come as the opioid crisis continues to take its toll on the United States. Drug overdoses involving opioids have increased dramatically in recent years. From 2010 to 2015, the number of opioid related overdose death rose from around 20,000 per year to just now under 35,000. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 90 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

For more on this, we’re being joined once again by, America’s lawyer, Mike Papantonio. All right, Mike, so you just heard there are whole counties in Illinois and in other parts of the country are filing lawsuits against Big Pharma, who manufacture the opioids.

Mike Papantonio: Right.

Manila Chan: Are these valid though? Will they hold water in court?

Mike Papantonio: Full disclosure. I’m the one … I’ve filed about 160 of those cases, and so, yeah, they’re very valid because you have cities and counties that those are the people that I represent. They’re cities and counties that have said this opioid crisis has cost us money, taxpayers money, by having to pay for increased hospitalization, increased law enforcement, increased court proceedings where children are taken away from their parents in dependency court. So, yeah, the average community, just like in South Carolina, the average community has a loss of anywhere between $160 million to $300 million. That’s just what happened up to this point. So, what we did is we enabled these Wall Street thugs. They’re dressed up. You know, they don’t look like drug pushers but it’s a drug cabal. It’s not just the manufacturers, it’s the distributors too. And they’ve created a crisis where 90 people a day in the United States die from overdosing on opioids.

Manila Chan: Yeah but-

Mike Papantonio: They knew that when it was going-

Manila Chan: Mike-

Mike Papantonio: Well, they knew that was gonna happen-

Manila Chan: Isn’t this-

Mike Papantonio: And they projected that was gonna happen.

Manila Chan: Isn’t this similar to the gun debate? Like can you blame Smith and Wesson or Glock for mass shootings?

Mike Papantonio: Well, here, that’s much different. You have … here you … the issue focuses on what we call causation. Can we take and follow the path of money between the distributor who sold millions of pills in a county, this is a true story, where you had a county that bought three million pills. Three million pills sent to a county with less than 100,000 people over a year period of time. Now, any idiot, no matter what they’re manufacturing understands something’s happening to all those drugs. And these distributors, like McKesson and Cardinal and AmeriSource and Purdue, the manufacturer, all knew exactly what was going on. They actually made it part of their business plan. The documents actually show that they incorporated this, what we call drug diversion, into their business plan on how they could make more money.

So, his direct correlation between opioid prescriptions and deaths in the United States very clear, it goes right back to the idea that Big Pharma told doctors and sales rep, they told the FDA that, “Hey, we have a special pill here. That this opioid painkiller is not even addictive.” They actually created documents to that effect.

Manila Chan: Okay, so sounds like that was a very deliberate push. So, now that opioids are declared a public health crisis, how do lawsuits play into the bigger picture? Is this really a legal problem or is it a social problem?

Mike Papantonio: Well, short answer to that is that you have to take their money away before they understand. Nobody’s throwing these people in jail. They’re no different than a drug pusher. So, if you can’t take … if you can’t throw them in jail because our government won’t allow us to do that, you have to do the next best thing, and that’s take their money away because that’s all that a corrupt corporation understands.

Manila Chan: That’s always the bottom line. Thank you so much for your expertise. America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.